“Lord, if you had been here. . . “
Have you ever said that? Maybe not in those exact words but perhaps: “Where were you? Why didn’t you do something? Why did you let this happen? Why are you making me go through this?” Where is my miracle?
Trust me, I’ve said it and I’ve said it a lot. And the more tragedy I see unfolding in the world around me, the more I tend to say it.
You see, I don’t like pain. Physical, emotional or spiritual pain – any kind of pain. And not just my pain, but knowing that others are in pain. I have an aversion to it and would like to avoid it at all costs. But of course, we can’t avoid it. Pain comes. And it comes often.
Our pain might be different and it may come about for differing reasons, but of course, we suffer beside one another. Sometimes human nature even causes us to turn that pain and suffering around on God. We point the finger – and questions and accusations begin.
He could’ve done something to stop the event/moment from happening. Why didn’t he?
We wanted our miracle and it didn’t happen.
We wanted to escape the pain, but he didn’t make it go away. Why?
He could have, but he didn’t.
That fact is what runs through our minds. He could have done something, but he didn’t. Sometimes that thought haunts us and causes our faith to plummet.
Before we get down on ourselves for ever having said such words, don’t forget that Jesus said something similar once. He was in the garden before being arrested and knowing what was going to be happening to him; he cried out to God for him to find another way to bring about his will.
He didn’t want to suffer and he was begging for God to spare him.
It’s one of two times that the Bible mentions Jesus crying. The second was in John Chapter 11 and it was upon witnessing the grief of Mary and Martha over Lazarus’ death.
The words make me love my Savior even more. Jesus wept.
If you back up a bit in the story, Jesus finds out about Lazarus being ill and he replies: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
A little while later he says: “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Interesting. At one point, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he said he wasn’t going to die, and waited two more days before starting the journey back to the town where Lazarus laid.
Later, when his disciples talked to him about it, Jesus acknowledged that Lazarus had in fact died and it was in their best interest for it to have happened. (Such an impossible thing for humanity to understand or accept)
When Jesus and the disciples showed up on the scene, Mary and Martha were distraught with grief. Martha actually ran out to him and the first thing she said was: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Jesus responded: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
Do you believe this?
Martha said that she did believe and then ran and retrieved Mary who ran out to the Lord and the first thing she said was: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
It was then that Jesus wept. But then, (we all know the story) he raised Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus could have acted earlier – Mary and Martha are right. He could have come earlier and they would have received their miracle – Lazarus would have been healed from his sickness.
Now, that would have been quite a miracle and it probably would have increased the faith of the women and Lazarus.
But Jesus knew what was coming. He knew that they would need a faith much bigger than what that miracle would have provided. Jesus knew that he was about to die. He also knew that he was going to rise from the dead and that nobody would believe it when he did return from the grave – unless they’d seen him perform the miracle before.
The Lord sees the big picture.
He knows what lies ahead in our lives and in the lives of those around us. He could jump in at any moment and deliver the miracle we want (usually that’s whatever will get us out of our current situation). But – have you ever thought about the fact that he’s waiting to provide the miracle that he needs to perform?
This is about him and his glory – not ours, and while he could make it about you and step in at any moment – he’s going to make it about him and what glorifies him and his kingdom.
Do you want to know the best thing about that? It’s those types of miracles (the type that glorify the Lord) that impact the lives of others – not just ours.
So yes, maybe Lazarus and his sisters would have had an increased faith in the Lord if he had performed their miracle. But instead, Jesus performed his miracle -and because he did, the people of the city were impacted. The Bible says: “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.”
That’s what it’s all about.
I know it’s hard when your in the middle of pain and/or grief. I know it’s hard to encourage others when they are suffering. And there’s a good chance we aren’t meant to encourage them in middle in their grief at all. It’s okay to sit down and weep along side them.
But I encourage all of us to try to remember that just because Jesus isn’t providing our miracle doesn’t mean he isn’t going to provide a miracle.
One way or the other, he will be glorified. The question is whether or not you’re going to let him use our circumstances bring it about.
In the meantime, we sit and weep with those who suffer. And when we do, He is in our midst weeping with us.